Former Sheffield footballer nets successful business after a fractured leg

Pictures by Dean Atkins.
Pictures by Dean Atkins.

In life there are good breaks and bad breaks but sometimes it’s a case of just getting on with it and creating your own success story.

Sheffield recycling chief Darren Bland did just that when was laid up in bed nursing a fractured leg just weeks after becoming a father for the first time.

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Darren, managing director of DJB Recycling which is based in Queens Street, said starting his own company couldn’t have come at a more awkward moment.

“I was working with my dad at BRG Engineering in Sheffield manufacturing recycling equipment at the time.

“My son was born in September 2005 and I suffered a broken leg playing for Royal Earl which kept me off work for three months,” he said.

“While I was off, though, I started making a few phone calls and sending a few emails out to sell and lease balers and compacters made by BRG.

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“By 2006 I’d got enough business to go full time.

“Since then it has been non-stop. I’m lucky to be working with a really strong group of people who all contribute significantly to the business.”

A talented former footballer who was on the books of Chesterfield as youngster and played semi-professional for Stocksbridge Park Steels, Darren has transformed his love of sport into getting the most out of his business career.

“I’m passionate about recycling now,” says Darren, aged 40.

“When I go into a client I can’t stop myself from having a look round and seeing how they divide their waste.

“At the lowest level it is good practice and helps the environment but on a larger scale it can also save companies thousands of pounds a year if they separate their cardboard and plastics. Every company has an obligation to manage its waste so you may as well do it in the most cost-effective way.

“When you play sport you appreciate working as part of a team and that’s what we’re trying to create here.”

On average DJB recycle 250 tonnes of cardboard and paper every week along with other recyclable materials such as plastic.

DJB also offer waste management solutions for companies and have worked closely with Wembley Arena for a number of years as well as providing the first ‘pay as you throw’ system for a wholesale market at London’s New Covent Garden Market.

Darren said: “We have built up a really good relationship with Wembley Arena.

“It goes to show that there is business out there for Sheffield firms right across the country.

“Like most things there’s no big secret to it.

“We work hard to do the very best for our customers, deliver what we say we’re going to deliver and take away hassle from a side of their business that should be something they don’t have to worry about.

“Recycling has been our main trade for a number of years but we’re also making a major move into the local commercial waste market this year.”

With this in mind DJB has joined forces with Sheffield company Quay.

Thirteen staff from Quay, including business partners Chris Brown, Martin Brown and John Gee, have all moved over to DJB, which is based in Queens Street.

Darren said: “We’re very pleased to welcome the Quay team into DJB.

“I’ve known Chris and the lads for a long time and there’s a level of trust there that only comes with that kind of relationship being built up over the years.”

Friends since meeting at Norfolk Park nursery Darren and Chris decided that their companies would be stronger together.

Chris, who is now general manager at DJB, said: “Working with Darren and DJB became the obvious next step for Quay.

“We have worked hard since we were formed in 2005 to make Quay a respected name in the commercial waste sector.

“We’ve known each other virtually all our lives so we know what makes each other tick.

“DJB is one of the most forward-thinking companies in our sector so it is excellent news for Quay that we’re now on the same team.

“There have been improvements to our yard in Effingham Street that are immediately apparent but the others benefits are that we have different contacts in different areas that we can now pull together all under one roof.”

The Quay acquisition brings the DJB workforce to 22 strong with the company recording a turnover last year of more than £1.2m.

Darren said: “We’re expecting to increase turnover again in 2016 and we’re planning to add to the £150,000 that we’ve already invested in new equipment this year.

“Establishing ourselves in Sheffield as a firm companies turn to to manage their waste is very important to us. We’re local lads and we’d like to think we do a great job for our customers.

“We do cover the whole of the UK as our work with Wembley Arena and the New Covent Garden Market shows but becoming more familiar to businesses in Sheffield for what we can do for them is a priority for 2016.

“People can be confident that when they pick up the phone to us they’ll be speaking to someone in Sheffield rather than being redirected through a call centre or put on hold.

“I think that local connection is appreciated by businesses.

“We try to keep things as simple as possible for customers.

“We’d urge people to think seriously of how they dispose their waste and we’re always happy to have a chat to give advice.

“Once that’s sorted then you can leave the rest to us.”

Contact DJB Recycling via the website: Click here

Twitter: @DJBRecycling

Facebook: facebook.com/DJBRecycling